03 SES 06 A, Optimizing Sustainable Curriculum Reform
Since China’s basic reform in 2001, many teachers in China have participated in professional development programs in the context of international or cross-cultural collaboration (e.g., Ryan, et al., 2009). China’s basic reform involves new curriculum goals that are aimed at developing ‘new’ types of learners (Paine & Fang, 2006). Students need to gain competences that go beyond ‘basic’ knowledge and skills, by engaging them in critical and creative thinking and problem solving, which they can apply to various real-life situations. Teachers need to be able to support students in meeting these new curriculum goals. Teachers are also expected to be able to develop lesson materials that fit with the needs of their own students and that they can use to supplement the available textbooks. This means that teachers also need to develop skills in school-based curriculum development.
In the past few years, many Chinese and Western scholars have collaborated in order to develop professional development programs that support teachers in China to acquire the knowledge and skills that are necessary in the context of China’s new curriculum aims and to develop skills in school-based curriculum development (Mitchell, et al., 2007). Earlier studies into teacher professional development in China in the context of international and cross-cultural collaboration have provided indications that ideas about teacher professional development and student learning can cross cultural systems (Ryan, et al., 2009). Such research has also provided insight in characteristics of effective and
sustainable curriculum reform that can be built through collaborative models, such as: giving consideration to local contexts and individual teacher agency through teacher-led research supported by school leaders and university academics (Ryan, et al., 2009). However, more research is needed with regard to the characteristics of professional development programs in the context of international collaboration and how these characteristics relate to what and how participants learn (cf. Borko, et al., 2010). Such research needs to take into account context characteristics, such as school characteristics (Van Veen, et al., 2010) and characteristics of the formal educational system and its developments. Such research may inform conceptualizations of both teacher learning and student learning (Desimone, 2009; Van Veen, et al., 2010).
Given the growth of interest in the aforementioned issues, in 2009, a professional development project was started in which Chinese and Dutch scholars collaborated. The project was aimed at supporting Chinese teachers to acquire competences needed in the context of China’s reform of basic education in general and school-based curriculum development, in particular. The research was carried out in rural areas of Gansu province, China, since in these areas, teacher development and school development is especially needed (Sargent, 2009). The purpose of the current research is to explore the characteristics of professional development programs in the context of international collaboration that can support teacher professional learning. The specific research questions is:
What and how do participants learn with regard to school-based curriculum development when participating in a professional development program in the context of international collaboration?
Borko, H., Jacobs, J., & Koellner, K. (2010). Contemporary approaches to teacher professional development. In P. L. Peterson, E. Baker, & B. McGaw (Eds.), Third international encyclopedia of education (Vol. 7, pp. 548–556). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: Elsevier. Desimone, L. M. (2009). Improving impact studies of teachers’ professional development: Toward better conceptualizations and measures. Educational Researcher, 38(3), 181–199. Mitchell, I., Ryan, J., Kang, C.Y., & Erickson, G. (2007, April). Role of teacher research and crosscultural collaboration in the context of curriculum reform in China. Paper presented at the International Conference on Teacher Research, Chicago. Paine, L., & Fang, Y.P. (2006). Reform as hybrid model of teaching and teacher development inChina. International Journal of Education Research, 45, 279–289. Ryan, J., Kang, C., Mitchell, I., & Erickson, G. (2009). China's basic education reform: an account of an international collaborative research and development project. Asia Pacific Journal of Education, 29(4), 427-441. Sargent , Tanja C. & Hannum, Emily (2009). Doing More With Less. Teacher Professional Learning Communities in Resource-Constrained Primary Schools in Rural China. Journal of Teacher Education, 60, 258-276. Van Veen, K., Zwart, R., Meirink, J., & Verloop, N. (2010). Professional development of teachers: a review study on the effective characteristics of professional interventions of teachers. (Professionele ontwikkeling van leraren: een reviewstudie naar effectieve kenmerken van professionaliseringsinterventies van leraren). Leiden: ICLON/ Expertisecentrum: Leren van Docenten.
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